The president is visiting Africa a month after a three-country trip to Latin America.
Tehran, Iran – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi begins his first tour of Africa, which Tehran aims to use to expand political and economic relations across the continent.
Raisi was due to leave Tehran on Tuesday for a trip that will take him to Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the first by an Iranian president in Africa in 11 years, according to state media. The trip now appears to have been delayed by a day.
Kenya’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Raisi was expected to arrive, but a change was made to receive him on Wednesday to finalize memorandums of understanding expected to be signed. Raisi will then travel to other African countries, Kenya said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told reporters on Monday that Africa was a “continent of opportunities” that wanted to engage with Iran and that Tehran was eager to reciprocate. .
“We can describe this trip as a new starting point to strengthen economic and trade relations while strengthening political and cultural relations with the countries of this continent,” he said.
Alireza Peyman Pak, former head of the Iranian Trade Promotion Organization and now head of the Agriculture Ministry, told state television last week that Iran had “neglected” opportunities in Africa in recent years, as China and a number of Tehran’s neighbors including Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have increased their presence on the continent.
Pak said Iran exported $1.2 billion worth of goods and services – including petrochemicals, food, medicines and engineering and technical services – to Africa last year. He added that the amount was still not enough, although it was an improvement from previous years.
“An African dollar is the same as a European dollar. The interests are the same. The global economy requires us to interact with all opportunities internationally and improve our foreign exchange earnings,” he said, adding that Iran could also trade goods with African countries in circumstances where banking systems are weak or where sanctions present challenges.
In March, Raisi hosted a meeting with a group of West African representatives, during which he presented Iran as a different type of partner compared to Western countries with a colonial history on the continent.
“The expansion of the relations of the Islamic Republic of Iran with Africa is not aimed at the wealth of this region but is aimed at the progress and well-being of all nations,” he said. declared.
This trip comes a month after Raïssi embarked on a tour of Latin America, where he signed numerous agreements strengthening ties with U.S.-sanctioned allies Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
Tehran has sought to diversify its relations since the United States unilaterally abandoned the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018.